Mobile Learning; Some thoughts and conversation

I seem to be having a lot of conversations with people about mobile learning recently. 

Everyone seems to be saying it is the next big thing, it will change the way in which we learn and organisations need to embrace it.  Seems a lot like the same language people are using about MOOC’s and that e-learning evangelists have been banging on with for what seems for ever now.  Sorry but I do get a little bit tired of people banging on endlessly about how this new great thing is going to change the way in which we train people, that traditional face to face learning is dead and we need to embrace whatever this new thing is.

Now don’t get me wrong I love technology, probably more than I should, I have a house full of apple, android and windows devices, desktops, laptops, tablets and phones all of which I use continually for various purposes, including online and mobile learning, both synchronous and asynchronous.   I love the idea of I-tunes U and the like which gives me the ability to download and listen or watch a course or lecture when I want.  But, that is my personal learning and I going to sit on the train or the bus into work and watch some organisational training on my iPad or my android phone, ummmmm probably not, because I would rather sit at my desk with my headphone and substantially larger than 10 inch monitor and comfortable chair.  Am I going to access it at home, again probably not, for the same reasons and more, namely I am at home with my family and relaxing.  If I didn’t have a desktop or laptop would that change things, to some extent, but I would still primarily only access the training at work.

Another issue raised time and time again in organisations (non-technology based ones at least) is that of why should I use my data to access organisational training.  Now if we were somewhere where there was less limited/costly mobile data or more widespread easily accessible and free wifi, this may not be the case, but we aren’t.  Even if we were however the questions still to me has some validity, why should I utilise a data connection that I pay for to access training provided by the organisation I work for.  Should it not be the case that the organisation has a responsibility to provide me with the tools necessary to access the training within work time from work equipment.

And finally, despite what the evangelists will try and tell us, there are some things you simply can’t deliver in an online environment.  It just doesn’t work for everything and further does watching a quick simulation of how to do a task on my smartphone, just before I actually have to undertake the task actually teach me anything, or am I just going to have to watch it again the next time I want to do the same task.

Anyway Just some thoughts.


Great little Blog post on what I think is one of the biggest issues facing MOOC’s and the like. That is how does one show that one learnt anything, or that you are competent in the materials. From an organisational point of view I really dont care if you have done 100 MOOC’s on a range of subject, unless there has been proper assessment (and sorry peer review of your ‘work’ just doesnt cut it for me) then dont even both putting it in your resume as it is meaningless unless you can actually show that someone is willing to say that you are competent.


The issue of how a mark MOOCs is a moot point at the moment.

As Europeans race to play catch up with their U.S. counterparts, (no educational body left behind!?), two glaring questions rise to the fore in many articles about these massive open online courses.

These are:

  • How do institutions make money from them?
  • Will MOOC students be able to gain credits for offline courses?

The answer to both these questions, in my view, ultimately rests on how the courses are evaluated.

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Still Loving a digital learning life

If you haven’t met or heard of the wonderful people at Be Learning; and the wonderful people like Stacey who are part of the team you should probably pop over to their website or read Stacey’s blog post and article in the recent AITD Training and Development Magazine.  It is definitely worth your while.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Reblog from Flirting w/ Elearning

I really love this graphic from Nicole at Flirting w/ elearning. You should also look at the the Gagne graphic as well, they are both worth thinking about.

Nicole Legault

This colourful infographic illustrates the Presentation, Application, and Feedback (PAF) Model for training and instructional design. It’s important to keep the PAF Model in mind when developing training to ensure we’re not overloading our learners with too much presentation of content. It’s crucial to include lots of opportunities for application of knowledge and to then provide the appropriate feedback.

Instructional Design Infographic

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Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) iTunesU, and Learning via YouTube

Does Online Learning Equal Competency?

I love Learning; lets get that one out of the way right from the word go.  I love to be able to look for a solution to something by searching google, then reading and article or watching a YouTube video on whatever I need to know.  I have iTunesU on my IPad, I watch Khan Academy video’s, in essence I tend to devour learning and information from whatever source I can get it.  Do I learn things by doing this – Yes I think I do.  Does this kind of Learning make me competent – I am far less sure of this one, and I guess this is where my headspace is with these kinds of courses and programs.  In most cases there is no real assessment of outcomes for the participants and where there, will they, or do they fit what employers etc might consider to be relevant outcomes.

Consider two applicants for a position one who has done a degree via traditional delivery and assessment and one who has done and equal amount of ‘online’, ‘free’ programs.  All other things being equal, (even without them being equal in my opinion) who are you going to give the job to.  I would think hands down the person with the degree and would challenge anyone to justify to me, why they would choose the other candidate.

What about recognition of prior learning, some which is a core component of the Australian VET system, do these freely available online courses count as acceptable evidence of competence or is there still further work that needs to be done, perhaps independant assessment of competence, before they are recognised?

I have a deeper issue though with this kind of learning which is one of transfer and application of skills.  Let me give you an example of what I mean.  A number of years ago I was in a training role, where after the courses had ended, clients would often contact me with a range of technical questions around some of the software that was use as part of the course (even though the course itself was not a technical course).  I quickly learnt that it was simpler for me in most cases to Google their question and give them the answer there and then, rather than  say I wasn’t sure and try and get back to them at a later date.  It kept them happy, value added to what we did, and positioned me a technical expert in a piece of software, that I actually knew technically very little about.  Was I competent; I dont think so, I never had any background knowledge about how the system worked or why some of the things worked the way they did.  I was just following the instructions of someone else.  This is not to say that I did not learn things I certainly did, but learning things does not in my opinion equate necessarily to competence, and if I am being compeltely honest most of the solutions went straight out of my head after I had given them to the client, simply because I did not need to know.  If a got multiple clients who wanted the same or very similar information I would bookmark the site or video so that I could simply go back to it when needed and pass the instructions on. The other thing that I could never understand about this situation (and this is a bit of an aside) is why clients rang me in first place, when they could have simply searched the web themselves and found the answer just as quickly as I had.

The other and final issue Ihave with all of these programs is how do we integrate them into the range of informal learning with our organisations and more importantly for me at least, how to we evaluate the learning that comes from them for both or staff and the organisation as a whole.

I would be really excited to hear any ideas that you have around this subject.

Training the Untrainable (The E-learning vs Face-to-face Dilemma)

I have been thinking a lot recently about the delivery of some of our more challenging training and professional development programs, particularly given that almost everyone these days seems to be an e-learning evangelist of some description (just Kidding) and our large and quite dispersed, regional and remote workforce.

I am not talking here about the delivery of Workplace Health and Safety compliance training, or basic computer skills, or even management and communications skills, I am talking about the hard edge training programs we run;

  • Suicide Prevention and Awareness
  • Domestic Violence awareness and intervention
  • Mental Health and Depression and
  • Psychological First Aid

to name a spectrum of them.  These are programs where there is a strong chance that at least some of the people who are attending the training will have been effected by theses kinds of trauma in one way or another, and often significant issues and reactions arise during the training.  This means that all of these programs are run on a face to face basis usually with 2 facilitators in the room, so that issues can be dealt with, without compromising the integrity of the training.

So the dilemma is, is it possible and also is it ethical and safe to utilise new technologies (e-learning) to training people in these skills, when we know that there is a certain proportion of people who are going to have adverse reactions to the materials for one reason or another.

My questions then are relatively simple does anyone know of any instances where these sorts of programs have been delivered through e-learning options successfully and how where the issues related to participant reactions handled in this environment.

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